Martin Luther King Jr.

By: Christine Kim 4th Blue

Background:

  • Born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Congenial upbringing- his mother and father never argued, consequently he believed in a God of love, a friendly universe, and was optimistic about human nature because of his childhood experiences.
  • He always had basic necessities growing up.
  • He grew up in the church. His father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, and uncle were all preachers.
  • "Mother Dear" Alberta Williams King- Daughter of A.D. Willliams, a successful minister, she was a devout person with a deep commitment to the Christian faith. She taught MLK Jr. about "somebodiness" and that he had to "face the system." Although she grew up in comfort and did not face the worst of discrimination, she taught her children about the Divided South and that it must never make them feel inferior.
  • "Daddy" Martin Luther King Sr.- dynamic personality and strong physical appearance (220 pounds). Very courageous, fearless, stern, and had real integrity- he was especially committed to moral and ethical principles. As a sharecroppers son, he met brutalities and learned to speak his mind.
  • MLK Sr. takes over role of pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church following father-in-lae's death. (1931)
  • His father adopted his name after the German protestant leader Martin Luther.
  • Younger brother- Alfred Daniel Williams King
  • Older sister- Willie Christine
  • Age 12, MLK Jr.'s grandmother Jennie died of a heart attack. He jumped from the second story window of his home, attempting suicide. He had been out against his parents' wishes at the time, and the event was tragic for MLK Jr.
  • Attends Booker T. Washington high school-skips ninth and eleventh grades.
  • Entered Morehouse College at 15, where his father and maternal grandmother had attended-he was the top student in high school but only read at an eighth-grade level.
  • He was uncomfortable with religion until his junior year in college. He disliked the overdisplay of emotion. It is not until his senior year that he decides to go into ministry.
  • His cause was to end the discrimination against blacks and replace the system of segregation with a system of equality. He was motivated by the teachings of his parents and the influence of his professors and figures like Gandhi.
  • MLK realized that the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons availiable to the Negro for freedom.
  • Becomes president of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in Atlanta, stood for social reform.
  • Influence from father and mother resulted in a strong determination for justice and a gentleness. Abhored segregation and had a deep urge to serve humanity, although he was not interested in ministry at first. He thought he could do better as a lawyer or doctor.
  • Entered Crozer Theological Seminary in 1948-seriously studied social and ethical theories of philosophers Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Hobbes, Bentham, Mill, and Locke
  • Dr. Mays, president of college influences his religious journey and encourages him to be more spiritual.
  • Doctoral studies at Boston University-philosophy and theology under Dr. DeWolf an Dr.Brightman. He studied Personalistic philosophy, the theory that the clue to the meaning of reality is found in personality, and this gave him the idea of a personal God and the basis for the dignity and worth of personality.
  • Meets wife Coretta in Boston in January of 1952. She was a singer that studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. She had a good mind and could comunicate well. She had courage, determination, amazing internal strength, and never became panicky or overemotional. She was his source of consolidation throughout the movement.
  • Four children: Martin Luther III, Dexter Scott, Yolanda Denise, and Bernice Albertine. Because his wife is patient, she could understand his being away because of the civil rights movement. This was extremely hard for every member of the family but it was a sacrifice that each family member was willing to take. Even though at many times they were put in danger because of the threats from the movement.
  • Becomes pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1954 and also the vice president of he Alabama Council on Human Relations
  • Started the Montgomery Bus Boycott on December 1, 1955 and was elected the head of a newly formed protest group, the Montogomery Improvement Association
  • He is jailed, his home is bombed, and is arrested again for violating the antiboycott law on February 21, 1956. He was arrested a total of 30 times during the movement.
  • On Nov. 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court declares bus segregation laws unconstitutional.
  • In 1957 he founded the Southern Leaders Conference with 60 other ministers and activists. This was a national organization that organized black churches and used nonviolent protests to achieve reform.
  • He gets stabbed by insane woman Mrs. Izola Wre Curry with a letter opener in Harlem in 1958 while holding a book signing.
  • On Aug. 28, 1963, King delivers his historic "I Have A dream" speech for the March on Washington which was one of the largest rallies to advocate human rights in U.S. history, which called for civil and economic rights for African Americans.
  • Served a key role in establishing the Civil Rights Act of 1964: outlawed discrimination based on race, color,religion, sex, or origin. This act ended segregation in schools, public accomadations, and voter registration requirements.
  • On October 14, 1964, he receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to prejudice in America.
  • In 1965, he leads the Selma to Montogomery marches: three marches that contributed to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These marches were planned with the help of President Johnson.
  • Voting Rights Act is passed on August 6, 1965, which probihited discrimination in voting.
  • MLK supported Johnson's Great Society, but did not support U.S. involvement with Vietnam. Believed that the war was taking money that should go to the poor.
  • Delivers his speech "I've Been to the Mountaintop" a day before his assassination. Calls for unity and nonviolent protests. He also discusses the fact that he is not afraid of death that may come at anytime for him.
  • On April 4, 1968, MLK is assassinated at Lorraine Motel.

Quote

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

Compare/Contrast

  • 2014: Death of Eric Garner and Michael Brown shooting. In this year, I believe that MLK would be received with open arms and an even more influential leader.
  • Eric Garner- NYPD officers accused Garner of selling "loosies" from packs without tax stamps. After Garner told the police that he was tired of being harassed and that he was not selling cigarettes, the officers arrested him. Pantaleo put his arm around Garner's neck and pulled him backwards and down onto the ground. Then he pushed Garner's face into the ground while four officers moved to restrain Garner, who repeated "I can't breathe" eleven times while lying facedown on the sidewalk. Garner laid on the sidewalk for seven minutes while the officers waited for an ambulance to arrive. The officers and EMTs did not perform CPR on Garner.
  • The Grand jury did not indict Pantaleo, and as a result, people demonstrated die-ins, rallied, marched, and some took to violence. The marching and die-ins are influenced by MLK's actions during the Civil Rights movement. If he was alive during this time, I believe that he would be even more influential.The news of Eric Garner spread because of a video that was taken of the incident and people knew of it all over the world. I believe that MLK would have used social media as one of his biggest tools of nonviolence and would be able to gain support not just in the South but worldwide and bring about big changes.
  • In Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown was shot 12 times after "fitting the description" of a boy that stole cigarillos from a convenience store. He was killed while walking towards the police officer with his hands raised in surrender, and the protests began after his death, died down, and then rose again when Wilson, the officer that shot brown, was not indicted.
  • The evening of the shooting, residents had created a makeshift memorial where Brown died. An unidentified policeman reportedly allowed a dog under his control to urinate on the memorial, and police vehicles later crushed the memorial. These incidents created tensions, and local police stations assembled around 150 officers. Some people began looting businesses, vandalizing vehicles, and confronting the police officers who sought to block off access to several areas of the city. At least 12 businesses were looted or vandalized and a QuikTrip onvenience store and gas station was set on fire, leading to over 30 arrests. Many windows were broken and several nearby businesses closed on Monday. Police used a variety of equipment, including riot gear and helicopters, to disperse the crowd. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, and some protestors threw rocks at officers and looted stores in the area.

  • If MLK was alive during this time, I know that he would be extremely dissapointed and disagree with the protests and violence that occured as a result of the shooting. He would have been able to prevent the violence that occured and persuaded the protestors to go about it in a nonviolent way. I believe he would have used social media as one of his biggest tools. The media played a huge role during the civil rights movement, and now, as we have seen from both the Eric Garner and Michael Brown incidents, is even more influential. The world is more connected than it has ever has been before and I believe that MLK would have used the social media to gain support not only from America but all across the world.

  • If I had MLK's leadership and speech skills, I would fight to decrease crime rates in India, especially those involving women. Gandhi advocated for equality and freedom for India which should be continued. However, over the years the crime rate in India has risen exponentially, with the top three crimes being murder, rape, and kidnapping. I would use the Gandhian principles of nonviolence and MLK's Christian morals and leadership to bring about big changes and for women to have more protection and respect.

Parallels

Growing up in a time where there was much discrimination and segregation, he became an activist. He saw that some African Americans had a high education, and they were still treated lowly. Blacks could not eat in the same places as whites, schools were segregated, bathrooms were segregated, and so MLK grew to abhor segregation. He encountered the discrimination and segregation every day while living in the South. This environment, combined with the teachings and influence of his parents' faith, must have heavily influenced him to become a leader of the Civil Rights Movement and take action. Also, the Great Migration-movement that occured from 1910-1970 of 6 million African Americans out of the South showed MLK that blacks were not taking orders anymore. They were free and they were the ones that could change their lives. If not, no one else would and they would have continued to live under those conditions. I believe this would have influenced MLK to become an activist and change the fate of blacks and America.

Historiography

In "Martin Luther King", Jack E. White states that we associate MLK as a black leader that advocated only for black equality. He points out that although this statement is true, MLK was also a leader that helped the whites get rid of their past self. King was able to prevent America from being a hypocritical country and ensured equality for everyone in the future generations. MLK was able to change the course of history by bringing about a revolution that was the final product of two centuries worth of suffering. (participial phrase in sentence) America could have easily adopted the morals that went along with apartheid and America could very much be seperated now if it wasn't for MLK. The movement without MLK seems to be seems to be close to impossible; because of his dedication to nonviolence, even through the countless violent threats and actions he received throughout the movement was key to his success. His ability to control himself yet be stern demands a respect for him and what he has done to change America as a whole for the better, not just for African Americans. Through the discrimination, through the violence, and through the support of a peoples with over two centuries of unjust treatment, MLK changed history by establishing equality for all races. (periodic sentence)

Political Cartoon

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